My earliest morning yet, I wake to a still black sky at 5:30am. Five minutes later I meet Rebecca and Jo to go to Pohoiki beach. Rebecca and I bring our surf boards by balancing them on the crown of our heads. Jo slings hers casually beneath one arm. As we walk the day breaks in the distance.
We paddle out and sit on our boards, gentle rocking with the movement of the ocean current. The morning is beautiful; only a few clouds linger on the horizon. The water is warm and refreshing. A curious head pops up from below the water. “Ah look, a turtle,” Jo says in her adorable Aussy accent. It looks at us for a few moments before dipping beneath the surface. The tide is low and we can see the jagged edges of the reef just beyond the surfers’ huddle. Jo warns me not to get too close. I paddle for a few waves though miss them as they break beyond my reach. The turtle comes back to say hello. A big wave comes towards us so I turn my board to shore and start paddling. I dig my hands into the water with cupped palms, my feet flexed behind me. I make contact with the wave and it propels me forward. I abandon all control and allow its power to direct me. I try to pop up but the wave is spurting water on both sides and I fear if I stand I’ll loose balance and fall. I am pushed all the way to shore, into where the shallow coral is. The waves crash, one after another, pushing me further into the shallow reef. I can’t tell what’s below the surface but I need somehow to steady myself, so I ground my foot to balance. As I do a steering pain overwhelms me and I lift my foot to long black needles of a scowling sea urchin sticking out the bottom of my foot. I jump on my board and paddle back to the girls, my foot shaking with pain.
We quickly move into action. We book it to shore and Rebecca scours to find a local to help. My first thought when he appears is that he’s gorgeous. A blonde, tanned, ripped Hawaiian comes over to us and immediately lifts me up to place me on a patch of grass. He brings my foot into his hand and starts massaging it. “I can pull some of it out, but there will be a few pieces wedged in there still,” he says. “The best thing to do is pee on it.” When I pause, he adds “or Apple vinegar works too.” I am staring at his lips now. They are so big it is as if they are swollen. Maybe they are swollen. I notice he has an interesting accent: not North American or European. Or Hawaiian for that matter. I forget about the pain for a minute. Just then Rebecca asks, “do you have a car? Do you think you could drive her back?”
I sit upfront with Roman, and the girls ride with our surf boards in the back of the truck. Roman actually carries me into the front seat. I feel like a useless limp, though also I’m so entranced by him that I hardly care. He starts to tell me he has recently returned back from living in the Himalayas at a monastery in the mountains. “I had long hair and everything I had was in a backpack,” he says. “I don’t tell too many people that,” a knock on the glass interrupts him. I laugh, we must have passed Kirpal. I was caught up and didn’t notice.
The day goes by quickly after that, though also slow. It takes hours before I can stand again. I feel better when Brenda performs a mini surgery on my foot at lunch. Though I endure severe pain, she was able to get a bit of the urchin out. Brenda’s twin sister is a nurse practitioner, she said channeling her sister through the process led to the success. I thank them both for the help. I start to feel even better in the afternoon when I partner with Joey for guided practice classes. I start to feel more energized, positive and like myself again.
During Craig’s session we sit around in a circle and talk about our fears. I start to cry listening to childhood traumas, family concerns, deeply rooted pain that resides in each and every one of us. The honestly exposed is raw, authentic but warm in its darkness. Like a dark cave illuminated by a small, flickering flame. We are all so strong on the surface but vulnerable and gentle at our core. Everyone is dealing with so much. After we unload our fears we feel as though we are holding a stuffed backpack. This sis the way Craig describes it before he says. “It’s time now for the anecdote.” One by one we project love onto and into each other. Prefacing the words I love you, we say to each other what we love, admire, respect about each. “Your energy is warm and loving… You are strong, grounded and beautiful…” and so on. Eventually the room is heavy, our energies colliding together. Warmth and vibrancy take the place of heavy darkness. I am overwhelmed by the love and positivity that resonates. Afterwards we all stand up and embrace, for a “big ball of awesome,” says Trish.
Dinner is easy though I am exhausted to the core. I feel unloaded, light, but not yet comfortable. It is as if I have taken off the heavy bag though my shoulders haven’t received the memo as to relax with the new lightness. A shift is happening inside of me. It hasn’t happened yet but it’s coming.